a shift in perspective

Today we’ll continue to look at resilience and how when things get hard, we can bounce. We will look at 4 ways a shift in perspective can make a big difference in our lives as we face cancer (whether our own, or cancer in the life of a loved one).

Avoid seeing crises

A shift in perspective doesn’t mean going into denial or sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich (which by the way, they don’t actually do). It just means that you reserve crisis mode for a real crisis, rather than situations that might someday turn into a crisis.

Some people are natural worry warts. They do what a former pastor of ours called horriblizing. They find the drama in every situation and amplify it as much as possible. They don’t realize they are doing it, but it only makes things worse. There is so much that we can’t control. A shift in perspective is about taking what you can control, what you choose to focus on, and reining it in.

I’m not minimizing the worry that accompanies a cancer diagnosis. There’s plenty to be concerned about. Every test and scan can have you on the edge of your seat. But don’t dig your own grave yet. Even the prognosis your doctor gives you is only an estimate based on statistics. While they are good at their jobs, doctors don’t have crystal balls.

Our Story

My husband was given a prognosis of 6-9 months (of course we heard the worst—6 months). They couldn’t have guessed that he would have a mutation which researchers were beginning to understand and for which they were formulating new treatments. Six years later, he is still doing relatively well.

Focus on solutions

At the beginning of our journey, I felt like our world was falling apart. I was afraid to make plans and every decision filled me with anxiety. A pastor we knew gave me some good advice. He told me to focus on what I have rather than what I could lose. That shift in perspective made a tremendous difference. There were still times when I worried, but I was more in control of those fears, rather than letting them control me.

Making decisions based on fear is never a wise thing to do. Once you have a shift in perspective you can make a decision, based on the reality you are experiencing in the here and now. This is especially helpful when you are making treatment decisions.

Our shift in Perspective

In 2015, Dan had his first metastasis to the brain. That was particularly scary. Most people can imagine living without a limb or even losing one of their senses, but when it comes to the brain, it’s a whole other matter. We see our brain function as who we are as a person, rather than part of who we are. Our brains control our intellect, our creativity, our moods, even our personality. So when something threatens to affect our brain, we get worried.

I heard horror stories about the effect of radiation on the brain. When we spoke to the radiologist, he put our minds at ease in an unusual way. He told us that the effects of radiation on the brain usually aren’t seen until a year or two later, and the truth of the matter was that Dan likely wouldn’t live long enough to experience those effects if they did happen.  That might not sound reassuring, but it gave us a shift in perspective. We would worry about today’s problems today and leave those belonging to tomorrow, alone, until we get to tomorrow. It turns out, his brain is still doing well, 14 mets (and radiation treatments for the mets) later.

a shift in perspective

Mindfulness

“Mindfulness” seems to be the new buzz word in health and wellness circles. But, that doesn’t mean it’s a shallow concept. Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. When you are present in the moment, you don’t horriblize. Your mind doesn’t race to every potential pitfall. Instead, you say, “right now…”

  • “Right now…things we are okay.”
  • “Right now… insurance is covering these treatments.”
  • “Right now…the cancer is stable.”
  • “Right now…we are able to make our house payments.”
  • “Right now… we can make memories.”

Sometimes you may have to search to find a positive “right now” statement, but there will be something that you can focus on.

Breathing for a shift in perspective

Have you ever noticed that when you get tense, you stop breathing? Sure, you take in enough air to survive, but by concentrating on how you breathe, you can actually thrive. Check out a post I wrote about progressive muscle relaxation. It’s an easy technique that can help give you a shift in perspective. It will relax you and allow you to breathe, lowering your heart rate and improving your ability to focus.

I have also written a post on a breathing technique. This is something you can do anywhere, at any time. The post was originally intended for people with breathing problems related to cancer affecting their lungs, but it is helpful for healthy people, as well.

As you practice either of these techniques consider a positive “right now” statement that you can focus on.  At first, this will be something you have to be intentional about doing. Eventually, this will become a reflex.

Spinout

My 16-year-old and I were recently talking about driving on Minnesota roads in the winter. She had recently hit a patch of ice and spun out. She was able to completely relax when it happened. This is the best thing to do to minimize injury in case of an impact.

The same thing is true when stress impacts our lives. We will be much better off if we have a shift in perspective and make our next move when we are relaxed, rather than out of a tense, reflexive state of mind. Our decisions will be better and we will be more open to living well in the present moment.

What Are Your Thoughts?

What helps you make a shift in perspective? I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

Now Available!!

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker


cancer survivorship tip

When people hear that my husband has survived for 6 years with stage IV non-small cell lung cancer they often ask me what our top cancer survivorship tip would be. So in honor of his 6th cancerversary, I have put together some of the best advice we have used and continue to use.

Cancer Survivorship Tip #1

Get Educated

I don’t mean that you should read articles filled with pseudoscience. You should find out exactly what kind of cancer you have and what the newest and older treatments for this cancer are. How can you expect this cancer to affect your life in the near future? One of your best resources will be your oncology team. That brings us to the next tip…

Cancer Survivorship Tip #2

Build a Trusting Relationship with your Oncology Team

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your appointments are a time to check in with your doctor and to get any unanswered questions addressed. It’s helpful to write down these questions in advance. When you see your doctor, fire away. He or she will be glad to know what’s been happening with you since your last visit. As you doctor answers your questions, write down what he or she says. It’s easy to forget if it’s not written down. Better yet, bring your caregiver along so they can write everything down. Two sets of ears are better than one.

Also, be honest and open about medications you are taking (including over the counter meds like Tylenol or antacid) and symptoms you may be experiencing. Those details can have a big impact on your treatment. Some cancer treatments don’t work properly if you are also taking antacids, but your doctor can give you a special antacid that is safe to take with your treatment. Some symptoms are important indicators of whether or not you are getting too much treatment or that the treatment isn’t working and it’s time to change to something new.

Oncology Care Teams

Cancer Survivorship Tip #3

Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion

This is especially true if you don’t trust your oncologist for some reason.  Check in with another clinic and see what they have to offer.Atn the beginning of my husband’s cancer journey, he visited the Mayo Clinic for a 2nd opinion. They told him he was already getting top notch treatment. This helped him feel more secure about the plan his oncologist had put together for him. Later on, when his oncologist ran out of options, she sent him back to the Mayo Clinic to be enrolled in a clinical trial. This opened up a new avenue of treatments to try. There is no room for ego in cancer treatment.

Cancer Survivorship Tip #4

Ask about Genome Testing[1]

Checking for genetic mutations can help your doctor find targeted treatments for your specific cancer. These treatments are often more easily tolerated than traditional chemotherapy. Many are available in oral form, making them easier to take. By trying a treatment specially targeted for your mutation, you increase the likelihood of it working. That’s a win-win!

Also, get retested after a couple of years. This area of oncology is a rapidly changing one. New mutations are being discovered all the time, and with them, new targeted treatments are being developed.

Cancer Survivorship Tip #5

Don’t shun older treatments

Sometimes patients get discouraged when their only available option is an older, traditional chemotherapy. No doubt, this is a tough pill to swallow (or more accurately, a tough infusion to take), but this can also be the treatment that gives you extra time. That extra time might mean a new treatment becomes available. That’s what happened three years ago when my Tagrisso came on the market. The time a traditional chemotherapy gives you might also mean that a trial becomes available. That’s what happened recently for my husband. And even if neither of those happens, a traditional chemotherapy is often the ideal treatment option for a cancer patient. It could bring you into remission or treat your cancer altogether. Your doctor will be able to give tell you what to expect.

Cancer Survivorship Tip #6

Have a good support system in place—and use it.

This could include a primary caregiver, family, friends, online cancer support communities, your oncology care team, your faith community, long-distance support, and neighbors. A communication tool like CaringBridge is an ideal way to tell your loved ones what’s happening with you.[2] You can help coordinate help via the planner. You can schedule more than just meals with it. Consider using the planner to ask for help with errands and rides to the doctor as well. It is as useful as you allow it to be.  Family and friends wish more than anything that they could cure your cancer. Since they can’t, let them do the next best thing by allowing them to help you and your family out during this difficult time.

Cancer Survivorship Tip #7

It’s okay to change direction in your journey

We often hear the message that you have to stay strong and fight. Sometimes, the thing that requires the greatest amount of strength is knowing when it’s time to take the gloves off. This is not a failure. This is another part of your journey. It is a time of inner healing and relational healing as you pull your loved ones close and say the things that are often left unsaid until the end of a life. In the United States, we are so focused on how to live well. One thing we don’t teach in our society is how to die well. There is an art to it. It takes a community. Only you know when it’s time to transition from one leg of the journey to the next. Hospice is the ideal way to make this transition. It’s a team approach to end of life care. It isn’t just for the last week of your life. Anyone with a life expectancy of 6 months or less qualifies for hospice care. It has been proven that patients on hospice actually live longer, more comfortable lives than their non-hospice counterparts.

Cancer Survivorship Tip #8

Pray

Our family prays, not just for our situation, but for other families we know or hear of who are going through this same thing. If you have a faith life, I highly recommend praying. I’m not the only one. I suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. My 1st rheumatologist was an amazing doctor. He was a devout Muslim who ended up going back to his home in Pakistan. Before he left he gave me a parting piece of advice. “You believe in God? Pray. I truly believe that prayer will help you. It will center you and give you greater peace. This will help to reduce pain.” That was non-denominational advice from a highly respected rheumatologist. To get through this cancer journey, we have prayed and continue to do so.

Cancer Survivorship Tip #9

Your Journey is Unique

No two cancers are alike. No two lives are alike. Because of this, it’s important that you don’t chase after fad cure-alls. Instead, get really grounded. Gather your tools, your support system, and your knowledge. Decide what you can do today. Tomorrow things may change, but today, there’s one thing you can do. Maybe it’s some information you need to read up on from your doctor, or setting up your CaringBridge.  Perhaps you have to look into help to get your kids through this. Whatever it is, just take it a step at a time.

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSONThe Erickson Family

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Footnotes:

[1] Not all patients have mutations with treatments available, but it is worth asking about.

[2] There are other sites available, but after trying several, I have found CaringBridge to be the easiest to use and the one my support system used the most. Feel free to use whatever site works for you and your family.

Originally posted 2018-10-22 07:00:21.


Supportive Connections

What is resilience? It’s our ability to bounce when we come up against something tough, like cancer. Will we bounce like a rubber ball, or like a tomato? I learned a lot about resilience at the 2018 Breath of Hope Lung Foundation’s Lung Cancer Summit. Perhaps my greatest takeaways came from a talk delivered by Dr. Jeffery Kendall. PsyD, LP.[1] Dr. Kendall delivered a keynote address entitled, Resilience and Hope for Survivors & Caregivers. In the next few weeks, I am going to share a few of the things I learned from this inspiring message. I’ll start today by touching on the first key ingredient to a resilient life: supportive connections.

The impact of supportive connections on cancer survivors and caregivers can’t be overlooked. Yet cancer, itself, directly affects relationships for people facing cancer—often negatively. During treatment, the roles within the patient’s family unit are often changed. Often survivors no longer feel connected to the people they once worked and spent leisure time with. These people may treat the patient and/or caregiver differently than they did prior to cancer.

Early on, someone told my husband and me that, “When you have cancer, you will be surprised by the people who you thought would be there for you, but suddenly disappear. You will be equally amazed by near strangers who reach out to you and support you in phenomenal ways.”

They were so right!

Good relationships are essential to resilience. Yet, so many people lack the supportive connections they desperately need. One in four people in the UK who are diagnosed with cancer lack support from family and friends during treatment and recovery. This isolation is evident from the very beginning of the patient’s cancer journey. Only one in five men has a loved one present when they hear the words, “It’s cancer,” for the first time, [2]

When everything is going well, it can be easy to live an independent life. We don’t see the need for supportive connections. But when everything goes south, we find ourselves feeling very alone and isolated.

That’s what happened to me. As an introvert, I hadn’t fostered many relationships. The few I had, crumbled when Dan was diagnosed. People didn’t know what to say, so it was easier to say nothing at all. And, I didn’t exactly chase after them. But over the years I’ve made a few friends who are more precious than gold.

Where can you find the supportive connections you need?

Aside from your place of employment and the people you already know, it can be tough to know where to turn for support. Are you involved in any special interest groups, already?

Civic groups and faith-based organizations are great places to find supportive connections. If you belong to one of these, you already share a common bond with these people. Often they have systems in place to support people who are dealing with something difficult. Your church may have a prayer chain; the Lions club might have a group of men who can modify your home to make it disability accessible; the PTA might have some parents who can bring meals on a rotation.

Even if none of these groups have a specific system in place, the ties you form with the people you meet there will enlarge your support system. I am part of a group called TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) I haven’t been able to attend for nearly a year (and my waistline shows it) but the wonderful members of my TOPS group continue to encourage me with cards and phone calls. One of my TOPS friends has provided meals to our family during our worst times.

Taking a Risk

We need to take some responsibility for the state of our social life. If we don’t make the effort to make friends, it’s no one’s fault but our own that we have none. If someone takes the time to talk to you, don’t brush them off. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with them.

It’s a risk, to be sure. It is discouraging when you share the things that are weighing on your heart, only to have someone tell you after 5 minutes of talking that you are doing it all wrong. Everything could be solved—you loved one’s cancer could be cured if you would only do this or that. I’ve had that happen more times than I can count and it does make you gun-shy about sharing with others—even people you have known a long time.

Supportive Connections

Accepting Support

When someone asks you how they can help, what do you say? If you’re like a lot of people, you don’t know what to say. This is especially true when someone offers in an open-ended way.

  • “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.”
  • “Is there anything I can do?”

Often, people make these “anything goes” offers because they really have no idea how to best be there for you. Even though I always recommend that friends come up with some specific ideas for how they could help, most of the world doesn’t read my blog. So, unfortunately, you will have to do some thinking for your supportive connections.

Take a couple days to do this

Do life as it is right now. From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, really think about all the needs your family has. Write them all down.

  • Are there rides that you need to coordinate to appointment or for your kids?
  • Do you have errands to run? Do you need groceries or prescriptions picked up? Now, you can do your shopping online and have someone just pick the items up.
  • What about meals?
  • Is there a honey-do list with some items that need doing? What needs to be repaired in your house? You don’t want to let these things become a bigger problem later on.
  • Would it help to have one of your supportive connections take the kids for a few hours? This could get them out of the house and get their mind off of what’s happening.
  • Do you need some respite time? You might need to just take a nap or go get a massage.

Once you have all of these ideas written down, share them with your supportive connections on your Caring Bridge or social media site. Keep the list with you so that if someone asks what you need, you have some options for them. They can choose whatever works with their schedule and skill set.

If you can’t come up with an idea of how they can help and they tell you to let them know if you need anything, write their name down. I suggest keeping their name and phone number on a list in your phone so that when a need arises, you can give them a call. One of my friends terms this “calling their bluff.” If they offer, take them up on it.

Next week we will look at how a little perspective can make a big difference!

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

How do you make supportive conections?  I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

Now Available!!

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Footnotes:

[1] Dr. Jeffrey Kendall, PsyD. LP, Director of Oncology Support Services at the University of Minnesota.

[2] Facing the Fight Alone. McMillan Cancer Support, 2013, pp. 1–15, Facing the Fight Alone.


Fear and Guilt

Dan and I first met one another in a Sunday school class ten years ago. We had both been through painful divorces, so starting over was a bit scary. Still, it wasn’t long before we knew that we were meant to marry. It was a whirlwind romance! All too soon, we would find out that even the best of marriages can be invaded by fear and guilt, especially when you are facing cancer. This is a story I’ve shared before. It bears repeating because fear and guilt are things that most people struggle with, including those of great faith.

Our friend, Rick

Back in 2009, The bus company that Dan worked for offered health insurance to its employees, but the policy premiums were too expensive for any of them to afford. Like Dan, his friend and co-worker, Rick, didn’t have health insurance. Rick began to have headaches that wouldn’t go away, and soon developed a strange lump on his sternum. When he finally qualified for a government health insurance policy in early 2009, he went to the doctor. But by then, it was too late. He had stage IV melanoma. He died just three months later.

Dan and I were planning our wedding,

In the midst of the joyous plans, the fear that Dan would one day get cancer, overwhelmed me. What if I lost him? I couldn’t handle the thought of it. I had never in my life experienced a love like ours. What if it was too good to be true? What if he died as Rick did? After all, Dan didn’t have insurance, either. I chalked it up to having just watched what Rick went through. Still, one day as I was vacuuming my living room floor and thinking about our future together, I began to have a panic attack.

Christians aren’t supposed to panic.

Christians aren’t supposed to have anxiety. Right? I had always been told that Christians aren’t even supposed to fear. After all, it says, “Do not fear,” over and over again in the Bible. In fact, it’s said that it appears 365 times in the Bible, one for every day of the year. Knowing this only compounded the problem. I now felt both fear and guilt.

But, I was afraid. I did have anxiety. I was panicking.

Thankfully, I’d fallen in love with an amazing man. When I called him at work, he stopped everything and prayed for me over the phone. He prayed that God would calm my nerves and soothe my heart and give me peace where there had been panic. This was a man worth marrying. so for a time, I put aside my fear and guilt.

We married that fall in our church.

Each of us brought three children to the family. Dan’s were grown and living on their own, and mine were still very young. My daughters quickly thought of Dan as their dad and after we had been married for two years he adopted them, legally.

Our daughter Samantha was so small when we married. She was immediately attached to Dan, thanking God every night for giving her such a wonderful daddy. Her only question was why God had taken so long to bring him to us. She was also very scared that she would lose him. Her biological father left. While she didn’t understand how that could happen, she knew that it was possible to lose a parent and that it could happen again.

She would frequently quiz us about what would happen if we ever had a fight. We assured her that in a good marriage, even if you disagree, you don’t fight. There is a big difference between the two. As time went on, she found out that this was true, and she became more assured in the steadfast love of her dad. She knew that she would always have him.

Three years later, doctors diagnosed Dan with lung cancer.

Lung cancer? How could he have lung cancer? He was healthy. He’d never smoked. I had no idea that 15% of people who get lung cancer have never smoked, and there are many more people who haven’t smoked in years, even decades. Still, it didn’t make sense.

I remembered how afraid I was before we got married. Did my fear, bring this upon my husband and our family? Over the years I reprimanded by people in the church. “Don’t say that you’re bringing a curse upon yourself.” These memories played through my mind like a movie. This is rooted in theology often termed “name it and claim it.” More recently, people have begun to term this, “manifesting.”

This fear and guilt formula is a Christian form of Karma

While I didn’t really ascribe to that particular theology, I had heard it enough times to feel guilty. After all, I’d been so afraid of the very thing that was now happening. Is that what brought this about? As irrational as it was, guilt plagued me for quite some time during my husband’s diagnosis process.

Does God really look at our fear and guilt like that?

Does God wait for one of His children to name their fear, just to visit it upon them? That would be like my child saying she’s afraid of snakes, only to have me put a rattlesnake in her bed. Or, me knowing she’s afraid of spiders, and putting her in a room full of Black Widows. That may sound extreme, but it’s no more so than cancer.  If God is a better parent than I am (and surely He is), then He doesn’t work that way.

fear and guilt

Saint Luke makes this same observation in his gospel.

“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:11-13 KJV)

I think it’s true that we do need to watch the things that we say. The words we use are indicative of the condition of our heart. And, the things that we say affect those around us.

“With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it, we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10)

We can do great damage without words.

When we speak to our children we can build them up or tear them down. When we speak to our spouse we can build them up here them down. This is why we speak life rather than death.

Fear and guilt are both experiences (whether rational or not). When we feel fear, we need God’s loving help, as well as understanding and support from family and friends. So, did the fear I felt, all those years ago cause my husband’s cancer? No, I was simply a woman in love. Love makes us feel vulnerable,

Parents worry about their children. That’s why we take precautions to protect them. Those worries don’t cause scraped knees and hurts that come even later in life as the children grow older and go out into this broken world. In fact, when God or His messengers said, “Do not be afraid,” in the Bible, they were assurances, not reprimands. It is time to disentangle the fear and guilt that people often associate with cancer.

Perhaps, all those years ago, God had been speaking to my heart through my fear, to let me know what I would one day deal with? Was He allowing me to prepare? Did he want to see my reaction to such a thought? Was He seeing if I could handle it?

I don’t know. But I do know that my husband’s cancer wasn’t a reaction on God’s part to my fear. My Father in Heaven is better than that.

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

Have you experienced fear and guilt associated with a cancer diagnosis? How did it affect your faith? I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSONThe Erickson Family

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker


Grief in Children

This past month, I’ve been working on getting my upcoming book Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Child Cope With Your Cancer, published. At the same time, we have been trying to navigate our children through yet another setback in their dad’s cancer journey. There is a section of the book which focuses on grief in children. Because of what we are going through, this section of the book was especially difficult to write and edit. It was also especially important.

What is Grief?

“You may associate grief with the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief, including the loss of a relationship, your health, your job, or a cherished dream.” (Help Pages.org Grief and Loss)

Most people think that grief is something that they’ll deal with when someone they love dies. In truth, the process of grieving begins at the moment you realize you of a loved one has cancer. This is a huge shift in your life when the story you pictured for yourself changes. The outcome may not look anything like you’d hoped or imagined.

“Life will never be the same. You can never go back to that day before the clinic visit when you learned you had cancer.” -Melissa Turgeon, child life specialist with the Angel Foundation.

When a family learns that a parent has cancer, everyone’s routine changes. Some people are surprised when they see grief in children. Consider that there are some very practical losses your child will experience or anticipate, such as:

  • A very active and involved parent can suddenly become ill and need to sit on the sidelines.
  • A caregiving parent may suddenly devote all of their time to the patient-parent, leaving the kids with a sense of loss.
  • Our 18-year-old developed a keen awareness that it was unlikely her dad would ever walk her down the aisle or hold her babies.

Did that last one surprise you?

Brain development continues until children reach the age of 26. Unfortunately, grief in children ages 18-26 is often unrecognized. Grief in children looks different depending on the age and stage, as well as the personality of the child. Often, grief in children is manifested by physical symptoms like stomachaches and headaches. In fact, these signs may even be more prevalent than tears or anger.

It’s important to acknowledge the deep and profound loss each member of the family is experiencing. How this looks will be different for each person.

 

It’s easy to misinterpret the symptoms of childhood grief. While grief is as individual and unique at the person who experiences it, there are some common reactions and behaviors that are often seen in grieving youth.

Signs and symptoms of Grief in Children :

  • Physical complaints like headaches or stomachaches
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Lack of emotions (even about the death)
  • Separation anxiety
  • Feeling protective of parent and/or family members
  • Worrying about the safety of loved ones
  • Feeling responsible for the death (thinks that in some way he or she caused the death)
  • A change in behavior at school
  • Falling grades, hard time concentrating or paying attention, seems to “daydream” more
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Changes in appetite
  • Regressing (acting younger than they are)
  • Acting overly responsible for their age
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of interest in friends and usual activities, even pushing away old friends
  • Worrying about another death occurring even their own death

A Different Schedule

Research has shown that grief in children and teens also happens on a different schedule than in adults. Because they don’t have the same cognitive capacity as adults, they can’t maintain a deep level of grief to the extent that adults do. Instead, children will show their grief off-and-on, in waves, over a period of many years. As a child grows older, grief will bubble up at different periods in life. When they reach new developmental stages or important milestones such as first dates, graduations, proms, and birthdays, the grief will rise again.

Seeking out youth grief services early on in a parent’s cancer journey can be very helpful. At this time, the support system that you’ve assembled, including professionals, family, and friends will be essential to ensuring your entire family is able to process their grief and continue to live despite the pain each person is feeling.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

 

 

 

Originally posted 2018-03-12 07:00:01.


talk to children about cancer

It’s important to talk to children about cancer-even with a “bleak” prognosis. My husband, Dan was stage IV, metastatic, when he was diagnosed. So, we have always been told that his cancer was terminal and that we were buying time. The best we could hope for was that he would be labeled NED, No Evidence of Disease (like remission). It’s especially difficult to talk to children about cancer when you are given such a bleak prognosis.

Our Story

One year into his treatment plan, Dan was declared NED (having no evidence of disease). This is a term used to describe what people think of as a state of remission in certain types of cancer. It means that the cancer is still there, it’s just too small to be seen on a scan.

It’s a wonderful feeling to be NED, even though we’d been told that it was only temporary and that at some point Dan’s cancer would rear its ugly head again. One thing that surprised me was how uneasy I felt, even during that time. The first thing that bothered me was that his scans were now farther apart. Instead of being every 6 weeks, they were every 3 months. What if cancer began to progress just after a scan, and rather than it growing, unchecked, for 6 weeks, it had 3 months to multiply? That question plagued me.

We were counting on God to give us the time we needed as a family, and we were counting on people to pray for us, so I also feared that because Dan was doing well, people would forget that we still needed prayer.

Our kids worried too.

In the back of their mind was always the list of “what-ifs.” It was especially bad just before a scan.

  • What had happened since the last scan?
  • Will we be able to stay the course, or will we suddenly have to learn about a new treatment?
  • What will be the new side-effects?
  • Will we have a new schedule, dictated by the chemo schedule?
  • Will there be another option when this one runs out–because it always stops working at some point.

How to talk to children about cancer:

Young Children

While most young children, will be able to quickly move beyond the cancer once treatment is done and you are feeling better, some children worry more than others and may need continued support. In these cases it is especially important to use care as you talk to children about cancer, giving them the reassurance they need, while still being honest.

Teens

Teens may avoid talking openly about their fears or concerns. They often feel a need to protect their parent by keeping their fears to themselves. It is often easier for teens to discuss their fears with someone outside the family. You can see if they would like you to help set that up with an adult they trust or can feel at ease talking to.
Kids tend to see things just as they are. Once you complete your treatment, life goes back to normal and you begin to look like your “old self” again, they’ll probably think that the illness is over. While you might want to tell your children that everything will be fine, it’s best to let some time pass before you give them any assurances, because unfortunately, cancer can recur or metastasize (spread to another part of the body).

Honesty is the Best Policy

  • Be honest about your feelings, with yourself and with your kids. They may be experiencing some of the same feelings that you are. Be honest about the fact that if the cancer returns, it will mean more treatment, of some sort.
  • During this time, you can–and should be happy.
  • There’s plenty to be happy about, and you can share those things together. Maybe you’re looking forward to not feeling nauseous anymore. If you lost your hair due to treatment, you can enjoy seeing it return (maybe even different from before).
  • Enjoy the moment, even if you don’t know what to expect in the future.

The Goal…

For people who have an “incurable” cancer, time is the goal, more time to spend doing the things God had called you to in this life, spending time with family and friends, leaving your mark. Remission, NED, stable disease, they are all good, but they are also another place in the timeline when cancer patients and their loved ones take a deep breath that they will hold a while longer. Talk to children about cancer-even if things look bleak.

In our case, we had reason to hope, even though, medically, it looked hopeless. Our hope was in the Lord, Jesus Christ. He’s been our strength throughout this journey. I’m glad we did hope because we’ve had 4 amazing years of memories, to date, that we might’ve otherwise missed.

 Just Released!!

Facing Cancer as a Parent:

Helping your Children Cope with your Cancer

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Originally posted 2018-06-25 07:00:50.


Job's Friends

Have you ever heard the term, “Job’s comforters?” If you’ve ever experienced a tragedy, especially one with your health, you’ve likely gotten a dose of what Job’s friends dished out to him.

Job was a blameless and upright man (Job 1:1) who got caught between God and the devil. Satan thought he could get Job to turn on God, but God knew Job’s heart, as he knows all of our hearts. He trusted Job enough to allow Satan to do his worst.

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. (Job 2:7, 8)

Now that you have a picture of just a portion of the tragedy that hit Job, let’s look at how Job’s friends responded.

In the beginning, Job’s friends did all the right things.

They made an appointment to come and mourn with him. When they got there, he was so ill that they didn’t even recognize him. They sat with him for seven days nights, and no one spoke a word to him because his grief was so great. I find this to be a tender moment. They were allowing him time to grieve and have the comfort of their presence. That’s being a good friend.

Then Job spoke. “I wish I’d never been born!”

Have you ever had a friend who told you she was going through a divorce, or his kid was doing drugs, or she was diagnosed with a chronic illness, or his doctor just told him he has cancer? What do you say to that? It feels like you should say something—but what?

Eliphaz was the first of Job’s friends to give his thoughts on the matter.

“Don’t take offense at this, but I just need to say something. Yes, you’ve done a lot of good things in your time, but it seems to me that you must have done something to deserve this. I was praying for you the other night, and the Holy Spirit told me (Job 4:12) that you aren’t trusting in God, but rather earthly things. Your sin caused this.”

Really???

This is an all too real a scenario, for people facing cancer.

That’s why I wrote Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone who has Cancer.

In Facing Cancer as a Friend, I address what to say, what not to say, end more importantly, how to use your talents and gifts to bless the people in your life who have cancer.

Some things are more stigmatized than others.

When my husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, we were quickly immersed in the cancer blame game. “Did he smoke?” Was the immediate response 90% of the time when we told people that he had lung cancer. I soon began to add the tagline, “and, he never smoked,” whenever I told someone about his cancer.

This bothered me, though. After all, are we saying that smokers deserve to have cancer?

The smoking stigma is reflected in research spending.

In a 2012 analysis by the National Lung Cancer Partnership, it was reported that each year, nearly 157,000 Americans die of lung cancer, and 39,970 from breast cancer. Yet, far fewer research dollars are spent per lung cancer death—$1,490 versus $21,641 for breast cancer. (A Sick Stigma by Charlotte Huff, Slate.com)

Job's Friends

Other Cancers

For other cancers, behaviors such as eating habits, alcohol, and stress are often called into question. While lifestyle is definitely a major contributor to all illnesses, including cancer, it isn’t appropriate to talk about these conjectures regarding a patient, unless you are the patient or their doctor. To do so, is either gossip or just plain tacky, depending on who you are speaking with.

The reality is, people are just trying to make sense of a senseless disease.

Job’s friends aren’t the only ones to engage in the, “how did this happen,” sleuthing. To this day, we can only guess at the cause of Dan’s lung cancer.  Radon is the top guess, just because it’s statistically most likely. But when and where did he get the radon? Who knows? One in three homes in Minnesota has an unsafe level of radon.

Dan has lived a “good, clean,” life. But, what if he hadn’t? Can you imagine all of the second-guessing that a cancer patient does at that point? We sometimes joke that he got cancer from the polluted air in Egypt. Really, it’s more of the same, “How could this happen?”

A skin cancer patient will look back on that sunburn from 2 years ago and curse the fact that he didn’t use sunscreen like his wife had nagged him to.

Someone with liver cancer will wonder if it was all of the partying she did back in her college days. Or, was it the acetaminophen she takes daily for chronic headaches?

We want to know why.

Cancer is such a complicated disease. Until it touches you, directly, you don’t have a lot of reason to gain an in-depth understanding of it. Social-media “science” only adds to the confusion. It’s horrible to think that bad things could happen to good people. It causes a sense of dread in all of us. After all, that would mean we aren’t immune. So, we try to conjure up a reasonable explanation for the cause of the illness or tragedy. Otherwise, how do I know it won’t happen to me?

Unfortunately, when we do this, we are acting more like Job’s friends than supportive friends.

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSONThe Erickson Family

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Originally posted 2018-10-08 07:00:50.


Metastasis

One of the most frightening words a cancer patient can hear is, “metastasis.” We learned in the post, Cancer Cells: Juvenile Delinquent Zombies, that one of the reasons that cancer is such a deadly disease is its ability to metastasize, or spread from one part of the body to another. Depending on what kind of cancer the patient has, the most serious form is known as “metastatic.”

How Cancer Metastasizes

  • The place where cancer first develops is called the primary tumor site.
  • From there, cancer spreads locally, invading nearby healthy tissue.
  • If too much time passes between the emergence of the primary tumor and treatment or treatment is unsuccessful, cancer cells will break away from the primary tumor site.
  • They then move through the walls of nearby lymph nodes or blood vessels.
  • Cancer cells proceed to travel through the patient’s bloodstream or lymphatic system.
  • They can get lodged in small blood vessels in distant locations, lymph nodes, or other organs. Like when they initially began growing, the cells invade the blood vessel walls and surrounding tissue. New blood vessels to form, providing an abundant blood supply to nourish the tumor as it grows.
  • After that, they can continue to spread to more distant parts of the body. Most of these cancer cells die along the way, but some continue the invasion and form more new tumors in different parts of the body.

The Same Cancer

Even though they’re in a new location, these metastatic tumors are the same type of cancer as the primary

tumor. Doctors can see what kind of cancer the cells are through a microscope when they do a biopsy.

This is important because the treatment options that are most likely to be successful, are dependent on the type of cancer rather than the location of the cancer.

My husband, Dan, has stage IV, metastatic lung cancer. The primary tumor in his lung was very small. Yet, in a short amount of time, it spread to his spine and his lymph nodes. Eventually, it spread to his brain. This is called a brain “met.” The cancer cells in his brain were lung cancer cells, not brain cancer cells.

Sometimes, a patient gets cancer again, months or years after they were treated cancer. Usually, this cancer is the same type of cancer the patient had before. Occasionally, the cancer is a different kind of cancer. This is known as a second primary cancer. Thankfully, second primary cancers are rare, but they do happen.

Where does a cancer metastasis travel?

Most forms of cancer can spread nearly anywhere in the body, but some cancers are more likely to spread to certain locations than others. The following is a table of the most common sites of metastasis (not including the lymph nodes) of various cancers. (1)

Common Sites of Metastasis

Cancer Type Main Sites of Metastasis
Bladder Bone, liver, lung
Breast Bone, brain, liver, lung
Colon Liver, lung, peritoneum
Kidney Adrenal gland, bone, brain, liver, lung
Lung Adrenal gland, bone, brain, liver, other lung
Melanoma Bone, brain, liver, lung, skin, muscle
Ovary Liver, lung, peritoneum
Pancreas Liver, lung, peritoneum
Prostate Adrenal gland, bone, liver, lung
Rectal Liver, lung, peritoneum
Stomach Liver, lung, peritoneum
Thyroid Bone, liver, lung
Uterus Bone, liver, lung, peritoneum, vagina

What are the symptoms of a metastasis?

Even metastatic cancer can be asymptomatic. Your doctor will be keeping a close eye on you if you have already been diagnosed with cancer. They will see you in the clinic on a regular basis, and order scans at regular intervals.

There are some symptoms to be aware of. Headaches, lack of balance and seizures, are a symptom of a brain met. Shortness of breath is a symptom of metastasis to the lung. Bone metastasis is suspected when there is bone pain. Sometimes they aren’t discovered until there is a fracture. If cancer has metastasized to the liver, the patient’s skin will often become jaundice (yellow) and there may be abdominal swelling.

A Word About Brain Mets…

One of the reasons brain metastasis are common, even when treatment is working for cancer in the rest of the body, is the blood-brain barrier. A semi-permeable membrane that selectively allows nutrients in while protecting the brain from toxins. As far as your brain is concerned, cancer treatments are toxic. Because of that tumors often retreat to the safety of the brain.

Thankfully, doctors have gotten very good at zapping those nasty mets with precision radiation. By keeping a close eye on your cancer and following your treatment plan, you have the best chance of being able to get a metastasis under control.

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSONThe Erickson Family

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Footnotes:

  1. National Cancer Institute, Metastatic Cancer: Where Cancer Spreads; Common Sites of Metastasis. February 6, 2017

mesothelioma advocate

As an advocate for cancer patients and their families, I daily hear from people facing cancer. Recently, a gentleman named Virgil wrote to me about his experience, Doctors recently diagnosed Virgil with mesothelioma. This diagnosis turned Virgil’s life upside down.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that forms in the thin protective tissues which cover the lungs and the abdomen. Exposure to asbestos causes cancer in the mesothelium tissues. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a group of silicate minerals that are fibrous in nature and functions well as a fire retardant. It was once a commonly used insulator. Now that the dangers of asbestos are well known, it has fallen out of use. It can still be found in old buildings and machines. The United States is one of the only developed countries that has not outlawed the use of asbestos, entirely.

Virgil’s Story

Throughout his life, Virgil has had many jobs that have exposed him to asbestos, including automotive and demolition work, I’ve. He says, “On some jobs, the air was so thick with debris and asbestos you could taste it in your mouth.”

Virgil can no longer work and now, mostly lives off of social security disability. Because of fluid buildup in his lungs, he has to be careful about overexerting himself. He has a portable oxygen tank which gives him some mobility. Still, he must limit his activities, Virgil spends a lot of his time spreading awareness and informing others about the resources that helped him on his journey.

Finding resources isn’t always easy

Virgil says, “When I was diagnosed I needed immediate medical attention. I contacted all the top websites on the internet that are supposed to help people with my type of cancer but nobody got back to me.” Then he found Mesothelioma.net. “Even though I contacted them on a Sunday one of their patient advocates gave me a call back within minutes.”

Virgil found valuable information at Mesothelioma.net; information on mesothelioma treatments and doctors, asbestos trust funds for victims, and a lot more. They also sponsor The American Cancer Society, the MD Cancer Center, and the Make a Wish Foundation “They gave me a great deal of helpful information on doctors and resources available to me.”

Mesothelioma advocate

Virgil is now receiving cancer treatment at the National Cancer Institute. The patient advocates have even provided him with financial assistance so he could afford a place to live during his cancer treatments. “If I had not reached out to mesothelioma.net, I would likely be homeless and more importantly in hospice waiting to die. These people gave me my only chance at survival.”

Advocate: Paying it Forward

One of the most important things you can do to ensure your survival is to advocate for yourself. Virgil is an amazing example of an advocate. He searched for information and assistance and is now sharing that information with others. If you have Mesothelioma, check out the information at mesothelioma.net and the mesothelioma resource page at Facing Cancer with Grace.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Originally posted 2018-03-05 07:00:27.


Faith and Cancer

Your children are developing their own sense of self, and their own personal faith. When a parent has cancer, their faith often goes through a period of questioning. How could God allow their mom or dad to have cancer? Where is God in all of this? Is God punishing them? We are often confronted with the question of why bad things happen to good people. People believe many different answers to this question, even within the Christian faith.

Faith, itself is born out of questions.

In the Bible, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Questions are a matter of not being able to see the end of the tunnel. Faith is what keeps you moving, even in the darkness, believing that eventually, you will reach the light. Faith can make all the difference in getting through life and its challenges. It grounds you, comforts you, and gives you a sense of community support.

Our Daughter, Sam

For the first 3 years of my husband’s cancer, it appeared that our daughter, Sam, either had unshakable faith or enormous naiveté. She was unflappable in her confidence that God would take care of us and that everything would work out. More recently I asked her about it since she was much older and could express her thoughts more clearly. She said, “I always knew that Dad could die, but I also knew that God would take care of us, even if that happened.” I knew then, that it was faith

Of course, having that kind of faith doesn’t necessarily spare someone fear, sadness, frustration, or any of the other many feelings surrounding a loved one’s illness. Recently, my husband was going to California to visit our adult daughter, her husband, and children.  Sam had an awful nightmare, the night before. As a result, she had a total meltdown. In tears, she told Dan that she’d dreamed he didn’t come back from California and that we’d never see him again. She asked him not to go. The reality is that the dream was really a manifestation of her fears about losing Dan to cancer. Thankfully, he was able to comfort and assure her that everything would be okay. He had a good trip and did return to us, safe and sound.

Your Child's Faith

What do YOU believe?

What are your beliefs about this question of why bad things happen to good people? In particular, why do good people get cancer? Is it a punishment for past mistakes or sins? Maybe a testing God allows, like in the book of Job? Is cancer a random event? Your answers to these questions are a reflection of your beliefs and who you are. It’s likely that your children are very aware of these things and have many similar responses to something as earth-shaking as cancer.

Children’s brains don’t fully develop until age 25

This is why it often takes that long before they really get their act together. It also makes it more difficult for them to reconcile their experience as a child of a cancer patient, with what they have always been told or believed about God.

What if you haven’t told your kids how you feel about matters of faith and God. If that’s the case, it’s likely that you’re wrestling with some of these same questions, and that your children won’t have a clear basis for their ideas on faith. It’s okay to tell your children that you’re struggling with what to believe. Again, this is coming from a place of honesty and trust. At that point, it’s essential that you begin to explore these things for your own spiritual well-being.

Your childs faith and your cancerGetting Help

At times like these, it can be a good idea to reach out for advice and help, for yourself and your children. Talk to a trusted pastor or a friend with a faith that you admire and feel you could connect with. They may be able to listen and explain things to you and/or your child.

One word of caution

Often, well-meaning people will tell a child who has lost a parent, “God must have needed another angel in heaven.” This can be very destructive to a child’s image of God, turning Him into the one who took their parent away. It’s better to say, “I’m so sorry for what you are going through,” or “I’m sorry for your loss.”

My Experience

For a long time, I struggled with the question of why my husband would have cancer. It seemed so unfair. I wasn’t angry with God, but what we were going through wasn’t lining up with how I believed the world worked. What helped me come to terms with my husband’s cancer, was faith.  Like my daughter, Sam, I had to trust that things would be okay. That didn’t mean that they would be the way I thought they should be, but that God would have His hand on us through this.

Above all, I take comfort in knowing that when my husband does die, whether it is in 6 months, a year, or 20 years, he’ll be in the very presence of Jesus Christ. For us as believers, there is nothing better than that. So, as hard as this journey is, I will rejoice for him on that day.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Originally posted 2018-02-26 07:00:13.

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